Posts tagged: Environmental Protection Agency

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
03 February 2011, 4:41 PM
Recent reports detail sky-high mercury emissions of the worst toxic polluters

When it comes to mercury pollution, coal-fired power plants are king. Two recent reports—one from the Environmental Integrity Project, the other from Environment America—take a look at the scope of the problem.

EIP has meticulously tracked mercury pollution from power plants for years in their Dirty Kilowatts reports. But this year is an especially important time to focus on this unresolved pollution problem, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently on a court-ordered deadline won by Earthjustice and a broad coalition of environmental and public health groups to issue the first-ever health protections against emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from power plants. The draft health protections are due March 16, 2011.

According to EIP’s report—“America’s Power Plant Mercury Polluters: The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty”—the 50 worst mercury polluters generated nearly half of the power plant industry’s total mercury emissions. These 50 dirty plants emitted 33,280 pounds of mercury—a shocking number when you consider it takes only 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury to pollute a 20-acre lake to the point where fish are unsafe to eat.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
02 February 2011, 4:46 PM
New survey reaffirms that public wants clean air, health protections
President George H.W. Bush signs Clean Air Act Amendments into law on Nov. 15, 1990. (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

Sixty-three percent of Americans want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “to do more to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water.” This according to a new survey conducted at the end of January by ORC International.

Rep. John Carter (D-TX)—fast becoming a household name around here—isn’t part of that 63 percent. In early January, Rep. Carter sponsored a resolution to effectively block EPA health protections that will limit emissions of mercury and other dangerous air toxics from cement plants. These protections could prevent the premature death of as many as 2,500 people every year when they take effect in 2013.

Notwithstanding the fact that Rep. Carter has seriously misrepresented the facts in his push to win support for his anti-health resolution, a large majority of Americans generally disagree with his approach. The ORC survey found that 77 percent of Americans—more than three out of every four—say “Congress (should) let the EPA do its job.”

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
02 February 2011, 12:22 PM
Perchlorate and hex chromium on her list of offending chemicals

At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing to discuss clean drinking water, today, Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that the agency would be setting the first-ever standard to limit perchlorate in our water. Perchlorate is a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that is especially harmful to fetuses, babies and young children.

Jackson said between 5 and 17 million Americans are exposed to this chemical in their water. She also detailed the agency’s plan to protect Americans from hexavalent chromium leaking into tap water, which made headlines a few weeks ago after the Environmental Working Group testing water found the carcinogenic chemical in 31 out of 35 tested cities. This hearing is on the heels of a report Earthjustice and other groups released yesterday showing that several leaking coal ash sites also are contaminated with hexavalent chromium.

During the hearing, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) mentioned constituents in Prince George’s County who have had to boil their drinking water due to water main breaks. He also mentioned the report by Earthjustice, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Environmental Integrity Project, expressing further concern about the new link between coal ash and hexavalent chromium.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
01 February 2011, 2:43 PM
Also, congressman's dirty deeds and boilers' toxic air
Refinery photo by Pamela A. Miller.

(Clean air is a life saver, which is why Earthjustice is working to ensure that polluters don’t stand in the way of safeguards against air pollution. Here’s a round up of some recent news in the ongoing campaign to protect our Right to Breathe.)

Use the #right2breathe hashtag on Twitter to track campaign updates.

EPA Defends Hazardous Waste Loophole
Back in 2008, the Bush administration exempted oil refineries from safety requirements designed to protect the public from the storage, transport, and burning of hazardous waste. Citizen groups including Earthjustice asked the current EPA to close the loophole, but last week, the agency signaled its support for the Bush-era exemption. This is bad news for communities that live near oil refineries. Wilma Subra of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network said “Communities in the Gulf region already suffer enough from refineries’ toxic pollution. The last thing we need is uncontrolled burning of their hazardous wastes.” A public comment period will open shortly—we’ll keep you posted on what you can do to help close this egregious loophole.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
28 January 2011, 5:50 PM
Senators introduce bills to weaken environmental protections
Sen. Barrasso, friend of big polluters

(A powerful faction in the new Congress has allied with industry to weaken our nation’s most basic environmental laws. Earthjustice will report on this expected barrage of legislative attacks as they occur.)

<<<Update 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 31: Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller has introduced his own “Dirty Air Act.” Like Sen. Barrasso's bill (see below), Sen. Rockefeller's bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to limit carbon dioxide emissions for two more years.

In 2007, in its landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are covered by the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency is required to regulate them if found to endanger public health and welfare. The EPA made such a finding in 2009, relying on decades of evidence, research by hundreds of the world's leading scientists, and numerous other sources.>>>

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
27 January 2011, 1:04 PM
Twelve bad men, Gasland spotlight, green spies
Polar bears use ice floes, which are rapidly melting due to climate change, to search for food. Photo courtesy of Florian Schulz.

Polar bear swims hundreds of miles in effort to survive
In a testament to the rapidly deteriorating conditions that polar bears face in a changing climate, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey recently discovered a polar bear that swam nonstop for more than 200 hours and 400 miles, reports the BBC. The epic journey in the Beaufort sea was most likely necessary due to an increase in melting sea ice, which polar bears travel on to hunt prey. In addition to losing 22 percent of her body fat during the journey, the mama polar bear also lost something that's truly irreplaceable, her baby cub. Check out Earthjustice's Irreplaceable campaign to find out how these Arctic symbols and others are being impacted by climate change.

Rolling Stone profiles the climate change dirty dozen
What do Sarah Palin, Bjørn Lomborg and Fred Upton (R-MI) have in common besides a penchant for making grandstanding remarks? They're also three of 12 people blocking progress on global warming, reports Rolling Stone. Some of the dozen's tactics include: attacking the EPA, giving reputable climate scientists the third degree, spreading disinformation about global warming and just plain lying to the American public. Unfortunately, their laughable efforts to mislead us are actually being taken seriously by some, and in the process risking all of our future.
 

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 January 2011, 10:44 AM
But is our idea of "clean energy" the same?

Last night in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama rightly spoke about the importance of growing a clean energy economy. Dedicating a chunk of his speech to the promise of the clean energy sector of the economy and the necessity for us as a nation to invest in this sector, the president issued a promise to America's scientists and engineers: If they innovate and come up with clean energy solutions, our government will invest in them and scale them up.

The president called this the "Sputnik moment" of our time. With that analogy, he hit it out of the ballpark. Our ability to invest in and dedicate ourselves to the clean energy economy of the future will guarantee our nation the global edge. It will make us world leaders, and it will guarantee Americans jobs and job security for decades to come. The president tackled this potential in his speech with inspiration and wisdom.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
21 January 2011, 12:48 PM
Movement to stop the destruction picks up after historic EPA action on MTR
A photo mosaic of the late Judy Bonds, a crusader to stop MTR, made up of 650 Earthjustice photo submissions.

Yesterday, The New York Times published an excellent editorial on mountaintop removal mining in support of the EPA's decision to veto the water pollution permit for the largest proposed mine in West Virginia, Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine.

It issues a strong reproach of the antics of certain friends of coal in Congress:

The mine received a final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2007. The E.P.A. has long had the power to veto such permits but has used it only once before. This decision provoked predictably outraged responses from industry and its political friends, including West Virginia’s two Democratic senators, John Rockefeller IV and Joe Manchin III, a former governor ...

Arch Coal has vowed a court fight, which Mr. Manchin says he will support. A far better use of their energies would be to find a less destructive way to mine coal.

This moral reinforcement comes after a monumental and whirlwind week in the movement to stop mountaintop removal mining.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
21 January 2011, 10:35 AM
Canned mercury, dirty Apples, pollution-seeking sweatshirts
Protesters against hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Photo courtesy of Marcellus Protest.

Celebrity disses hydraulic fracturing
Forget traipsing around a creepy island with Leonardo DiCaprio. Actor Mark Ruffalo recently went on a much more daring crusade in his latest roll as a passionate environmental advocate speaking out against the practice of hydraulic fracturing, according to HuffPo. After attending an NYC event called "Fracking and Its Effects: A Panel Discussion," Ruffalo told HuffPo in an exclusive interview that risky technologies like fracking will lead to "greater degradation…and greater catastrophes," urging people to speak out on the issue. Visit Earthjustice's Web site to see how you can help put the brakes on fracking.

High-tech sweatshirt detects air pollution
A pair of NYU grad students with a flair for combining fashion and science have created a high-tech sweatshirt that features an image of pink lungs whose veins turn blue after coming in contact with air pollution, reports the NY Daily News. A tiny carbon monoxide sensor embedded in the shirt can pick up air pollutants from a range of sources, like cars and second-hand smoke. At $60 a pop, it's unlikely that the shirts will be mass produced any time soon, but in the meantime the shirts make quite the fashion statement.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
13 January 2011, 2:46 PM
Congresswoman circulates letter opposing resolution attacking cement rules

Last week, this time, Earthjustice was responding to news of a resolution introduced by Rep. John Carter (R-TX), seeking to block important clean air protections. Using the Congressional Review Act, Rep. Carter aims to undo protective health standards that will reduce mercury and other toxic emissions from cement plants. If successful, Rep. Carter's resolution would strip health protections from thousands of people who suffer from respiratory and other health ailments caused by cement plants' pollution.

But today, we’ve found an ally in Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), who submitted a letter to her congressional colleagues disavowing this effort.

Rep. Schakowsky calls on her colleagues to oppose Carter's resolution, emphasizing this important point: "I urge you to protect children’s health…" Rep. Schakowsky's letter details the many health benefits of cleaning up polluting cement plants, including the prevention of 2,500 premature deaths and reduction of health care costs by as much as $18 billion every year.

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